March 2001 News

J&K militants keep security men busy

10 March 2001
The Statesman

New Delhi: A hundred days into the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, the result is largely mixed. Artillery exchanges along the Line of Control have virtually ceased but activity by some militant groups has been on the rise. The defence minister, Mr George Fernandes, and the home minister, Mr L K Advani, held discussions on the situation yesterday. This followed a meeting with the minister of state for civil aviation, Mr Chamanlal Gupta, on rehabilitation measures. Consultations with the military top brass have also been held. Even though the militant groups clearly enjoy the support of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, there appears to be some hesitation in the government to release a White Paper on this issue. The release could send wrong signals, it is felt. Besides, a lot of information may be difficult to prove without compromising certain sources. While the Centre continues to state that the general situation in the state has improved, the levels of violence remain the same as militants are still very active. Even officially, the Centre has said that for the ceasefire to be extended beyond 31 May will depend on the ground-level situation in the state. The security forces continue to be active in certain ways despite the ceasefire and between late November and late February, 227 terrorists were killed and 82 arrested. But the security forces have also suffered, losing 91 men in the actions. Some recent raids have been very well-planned and daring, officials said. The role of Pakistan has caused concern. While the artillery exchanges have ceased, it may be continuing to support the militant groups. While some groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, to an extent, are “semi-independent” as it is financed by people in West Asia others like the smaller and newer Jaish-e-Mohammed are directly funded by the ISI, sources said. Nor is the ISI following an independent policy for its chief is close to the Pakistani military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf. There is a worry in military circles about continuation of the ceasefire in summer which is the most difficult time for the security forces. For, the passes will be open, easing entry into Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Militants will have an easier time operating in the summer. Also, there is a bit of frustration with the ceasefire among some junior officers.

 

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